SF Sundays – Let’s Try This Again

Happy Father’s Day!! I hope this finds all the wonderful humans who are father figures in our lives enjoying their well-deserved day of rest, fun, and breakfast in bed. Yes, dads deserve breakfast in bed too!

This is also the perfect time to reignite the SF Sundays rant series. The last time I wrote for the rant series was right before the second state-wide shutdown in December. As summer approaches, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. San Francisco is one of the first major US cities to have over 80% of its eligible residents either fully or partially vaccinated. Most of the Bay Area, along with California, officially reopened last Tuesday!

As I type this, I’m excited but still as cautious as ever. With this rant, I hope to see a better and new normal. So let’s try this again and see what’s going on in the Bay Area.

TOWN HAPPENINGS

Max Field BalaGreetings from San Francisco mural

If you’ve got the kids this summer, time to impress them with some fun activities around the city. I was the cool auntie to my nephew a couple weeks ago when I took him out on a sunny day from Ghirardelli Square to Pier 39.

He LOVED the Cartoon Art Museum and seeing the history of animations and comic books’ superheroes. Currently, they are showcasing artwork reflective of George Takei’s graphic memoir, “They Called Us Enemy”. Later this summer, the museum will host an exhibit showcasing costumes and props from the Batman movies. We got a sneak peek and it looks promising.

We headed around the corner to Umbrella Alley. A fun outdoor alley with interactive murals by local artists for all your Instagram and photographic delights! From there, we strolled through Fishermen’s Wharf, where slowly but surely, local shops, eateries, bus tours, and boaters were reopening and welcoming everyone back.

Other fun things to do and check out this summer:

Wangechi MutuOutstretched, 2019

LET’S EAT

With restaurants reopening for both indoor and outdoor dining, I’m readly to back out on my foodie adventures, discovering renewed local spots while continuing to support my favorites. Personally thought, I’m not comfortable dining indoors. However, I’m glad that there are still so many options for those still hesitant like me.

So where am I going?

Shout out to my favorite take-out spot, Old Mandarin Islamic in San Francisco. It’s one of the few halal Chinese spots in the Bay and they’ve gotten better over the years. They still have the outdoor parklet and limited indoor seating so I’m comfortable heading back out there (and I’ll try to remember to take pictures before I dig, I promise!).

Vegan and halal? Yes please! I’ve got to head back to Grandeur Oakland for those amazing adobe chicken wings! They have a great vegan selection, including the cauliflower wings which were just as good with the amazing selection of sauces.

As we head back out on our foodie adventures, kindly be courteous to the restaurant management and staff. I’ve seen a few struggling with reopening regulations, limited staff, readjusted hours of operations, and even limiting the capacity for safety and service reasons. We are all in this together so let’s remain calm, kind, and courteous.

What are you trying again with the reopenings happening across the Bay Area? Do share your thoughts below.

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by any of the above-mentioned entities unless otherwise noted. Any and all sponsored rants are always based on actual experiences and/or interests. If you’d like me to check out a local event or eatery to rant about, please email ha@mshala.co.

SF Sundays – A New Normal

The last time I wrote for SF Sundays rant series was right before the local and state-wide shut down due to a surge in covid cases. Now as we approach the winter season, we are once again seeing a surge in cases. California alone has reached over one million cases but still persisting to flatten that curve with the lastest shelter in place curfew being enforced this week.

This latest entry is being written with the knowledge that some businesses are still safely open as we continue living during this “new normal”. I was honestly hesitant these past few months but I think it’s an appropriate time to slowly relaunch this rant series to show some much-needed support to our local businesses and organizations.

So let’s see what’s open and how we can enjoy the Bay’s “new normal” living this winter season.

TOWN HAPPENINGS

Thanks to the Frida Kahlo Museum (aka The Blue House) in Mexico City, Mexico, we here in the Bay will get to see some of Frida Kahlo’s personal items along with some of her magnificent works of art.

The Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving exhibit at the de Young Museum is open to the public through February 2021. Whether or not you are a FAMSF member, you need to book your tickets online, marked with the scheduled entrance time with respect to the museum’s limit capacity protocol.

In other museum news, the lovely Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) was expected to slowly reopen to the public this Thanksgiving week. Sadly, the reopening has been postponed until further notice. I’ll be sure to post once a reopening date has been announced.

If you’re looking for an activity to do safely with the family, my brother and I headed out to Mulatto Meadows recently for a horseback riding lesson. I got really lucky to meet and ride the one and only Dapper! This is the same lovely horse that Mulatto Meadows owner and activist Brianna Noble rode during the Black Lives Matter protests in Oakland. It was a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to continue taking lessons in the near future. Interested parties are asked to call ahead and schedule their lessons in advance.

LET’S EAT

My foodie family and I have either been cooking more at home or ordering take out from our favorite local restaurants these past few months. However, I’ve only allowed myself to go out to a handful of places that have been keeping up with safety protocols such as outdoor seating and limited capacity to allow distancing. One of these favorites have been Pacifica Brewery.

Off the CA Highway 1, this spot is literally spot on. You don’t have to be a drinker to appreciate the beautifully plated dishes and friendly service that bring me back for more. Their menu is seasonally changing except for a few staples and crowd favorites like the PB burger and their delicious take on beignets. This season, you must try the chestnut and butternut squash ravioli of their dinner menu.

How are you going about the “new normal” this winter season? Do share your thoughts below.

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by any of the above-mentioned entities unless otherwise noted. Any and all sponsored or paid rants are always based on actual experiences and/or interests. If you’d like me to check out a local event or eatery to rant about, please email ha@mshala.co.

What Did You Eat This Ramadan?

During Ramadan, our foodie family has been taking turns cooking iftar meals. These past couple of weeks of making old favorites and trying new recipes has been absolutely fun. Here are our top three dishes that I hope inspire your cooking as we near the end of the holy month.

Nothing beats Mama’s cooking! I mean, she’s the one that has truly inspired us kids to be the foodies we are today. We can’t go through the holy month without Mama’s delicious kushary. A popular Egyptian street food dish that consists of rice, lentils and pasta that’s drizzled with garlic marinara sauce, and topped with crispy fried onions.

What makes my mama’s take different than most traditional takes is that she makes the typical Egyptian rice with vermicelli noodles and uses two kinds of pasta, both spaghetti and salad macaroni. If this isn’t carb heaven, it’s not kushary.

For Mother’s Day dinner, my brother Samy took a risk from his usual steak and curry dishes to make a slow cooked brisket. Alongside all the fixings, it came out pretty good! We’re talking baked potato, roasted tomatoes, garlic and corn as well as a side of sauteed asparagus for good measure.

The meat was tender and seasoned to absolute perfection. Kudos to my brother because I can’t wait for the encore!

Speaking of encores, when I make something the family loves, I’m usually almost asked to remake it. Now when my nephew raved for days about my crispy chicken tenders and waffles -from scratch might I add- I couldn’t say no when he asked for more chicken.

Thus I combined two of his favorites that I’ve made for the family throughout Ramadan into one simple dish. Crispy chicken tenders atop Parmesan penne pasta. I use boneless chicken breasts, cut into four pieces each and use seasoned breadcrumbs. As penne pasta is one of my favorites, I love coming up with varying recipes for it. This one however has always been a favorite with the family, with a light fresh tomato sauce with cheese cooked in the sauce as well as garnished on top.

Who can say no to more cheese? And I’m lactose intolerant!

Do share in the comments what’s a dish you must have in Ramadan? What’s a dish you tried for the first time? What’s a favorite you’re favorite dish to cook up?

SF Sundays – Top Ten Musts for 2020

It’s February, can I still say Happy 2020? Probably not but I’ll say it anyways… HAPPY 2020!

It’s actually been a bit busy for me, with my full time work, side projects and recent certification exam (long story, short, I like to keep learning!). However, I have been making a list of all the things I must see, do and eat in the Bay Area when I realized, does everyone else know about these sweet delights in our backyard?

What must we see, do and eat in the Bay? Here are a few off the tip of my very long list for 2020:

50 Years! I can’t be the only one that didn’t realize there is a fantastic museum that encompasses our history as a state just off the Lake Merritt Bart Station in Oakland. The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is a fantastic space housing local art, history and culture with beautiful collections and visiting exhibits. This year, the OMCA is on my must revisit list as it celebrates it’s 50th anniversary of not just being a fabulous museum, but a welcoming “gathering place in the heart of Oakland”.

Let’s Eat! Reem’s has been added to my must eat list after seeing the nonstop hype behind it. Even the local news was all giddy when it was announced that this Oakland staple was opening up shop in San Francisco’s historic Mission District. Like a typical foodie, I went to check out the menu and literally salivated. It’s also worth mentioning that this is an Arab American lady owned business. So I’m biased in thinking it’s up to the hype and I can’t wait to eat it all up!

Up Above the Clouds! Taking a hot air balloon ride has been on my bucket list for a while. In looking to tick it off my list this year, I’ve come to find out I can do just that in the North Bay’s beautiful Napa Valley. We are spoiled for choice, whether going up with a group or privately, for an hour or so. Regardless, you can head to Visit Napa Valley to see which option best suits you, as well as other things to do while you’re up there.

Broadway! One of the longest running shows on Broadway is roaring it’s way to the Bay! The Lion King will be showcasing for a limited time this summer at the Center for Performing Arts in San Jose. As this is a limited engagement, it’s on my must see list because tickets will sell fast. Especially since it’s happening right after Hamilton’s extended run in San Francisco. What? You haven’t seen Hamilton in the Bay yet? What are you waiting for? It’s now extended through May 31st so add it to your 2020 must see list!

Frida! The most anticipated exhibit of the season coming to the Bay has to be Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving. Thanks to the Frida Kahlo Museum (aka The Blue House) in Mexico City, Mexico, we here in the Bay will get to see some of her personal items along with some of her magnificent works of art. As a fan of this prolific artist, this exhibit is on my must experience list, with the accompanying lectures, docent talks and much more at the de Young Museum.

Jazz It Up! The music scene in the Bay last year has been absolutely amazing. So much so, I started 2020 by heading to SFJAZZ‘s annual new year concert series of the legendary trumpeter Chris Botti! This concert was just a peak into the amazing line up happening this season. I’m now a proud member and so should you if you don’t want to miss out on great shows like this…

Hole In The Wall! Did you know, there’s a Peephole Cinema in San Francisco? Blink and you miss it! Peephole Cinema San Francisco is located in the Mission District at 280 Orange Alley, looping silent short films for those who’d like to take a peak. Another one was just added at SFO’s Terminal 1, thanks in kind to the curator, Sarah Klein. If you’re a movie buff or at least appreciate the art form, then add this to your must see list.

Yummy Delicious! The two day Eat Real Fest in Oakland’s Jack London Square has announced it’s dates for the year. What makes this food festival exciting is not only the great food expected to be shared, but the celebration of sustainable local ingredients and the craft behind the dishes and drinks served. I missed last year’s festival so I’m looking forward to eating my heart out while checking out all the cooking classes and demos that are being planned as we speak. Yummy!

Under The Sea! From the depths of the seas, statues of a three headed serpent and a mysterious deity were found, possibly lying in shipwrecks for centuries. The LOST AT SEA exhibit now through March is only happening at the Asian Art Museum. This tops my list as this one of a kind exhibit is only happening in San Francisco through March. You’re welcome to join our InterNations Culture and Art Group as we time travel and explore these wondrous beauties in February.

Just For Laughs! I LOVE the stand up comedy scene here in the Bay! We are truly blessed to get some of the best up and comers as well as established comedians stopping by to make us laugh. Ali Wong and Trevor Noah ended 2019 by coming through with sold out shows! 2020 shouldn’t be any different, if not better. I personally can’t wait for Michelle Wolf‘s return to the Bay later this week. Later this season, Jim Carrey, Whitney Cummings and Ali Wong will be in town too, woohoo!

So what’s on your Bay Area list for 2020?

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by any of the above mentioned entities unless otherwise noted. Any and all sponsored or paid rants are for time spent, never for a biased take or review. If you’d like me to check out a happening around town or a local eatery to rant about, please email ha@mshala.co.

SF Sundays – Winter Wonderland!

Happy December Everyone!!

I do love the city in December. Maybe it’s the holiday lights, maybe it’s my birthday month. I don’t know, I just love San Francisco in December!

Our family may not celebrate Christmas but we sure love the winter season nonetheless, exchanging presents, and decorating our home as we do for Halloween and both Eids each year.

Before we go exploring the city, I do want to remind you that we’ve had massive fires up in the North Bay thanks in part to PG&E negligence (yea, I said it!), heat waves, high winds and dry brush in the past couple of months. If you’d like to help those in need this holiday season, please support the World Central Kitchen, Islamic Relief Fund and the California Fire Foundation.

HAPPENING AROUND TOWN

If you’ve never seen a movie while the amazing San Francisco Symphony performs the soundtrack and music, have you really seen the movie? For the holiday season, expect to find movies like Love Actually, Ghostbusters and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Oh, I can’t wait for that one!

c/o sfsymphony.org

And as with every year, Cirque du Soleil is back in San Francisco with the production of Amaluna, running now through January 22, 2020. Happening at Oracle Park, with another story as told by amazing acrobatic performers and live music. Get your tickets now, these shows are selling out!

Need a friend or two to join you on these amazing wonderland adventures? You should join me as the consul of InterNation’s SF Culture and Arts Group! We check out some beautiful and fun works throughout town on a regular basis.

I entered the cosmos!

Recently, we were invited to the opening of the As Above As Below exhibit at the Menresa Gallery in the St. Ignatius Church of USF. A small but extremely dazzling exhibit bringing astrology, neurology and the arts together. I entered the cosmos and so should you, as you only have until December 15th to check it out. The exhibit is free but be sure to book your tickets online.

We also checked out the season’s must see exhibit, Soul of a Nation, at the de Young Museum. Our group got together last week and were truly immersed in the powerful pieces, from collages and photography to paintings and sculptures. Many in the group did the audio tour which went into further detail, history and relevance of each piece.

Faith Ringgold, 1977 – Alice Neel

Don’t forget the ice rinks are up and running now through January all across the Bay. Head to Union Square Ice Rink and skate around the beautifully lit tree. For the second year, the lovely Winter Park at Civic Center is back. This is an ice rink that the young ones will truly enjoy among the greenery and lights. The Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center is not just open during the holidays but all year long! There are many more ice rinks to skate through the Bay Area, which you can find thanks to TimeOut San Francisco.

YUMMINESS ACHIEVED

Nothing truly scares me like hunger. This week, I want to highlight the food banks that begin their busiest time of the year to help secure food for those in need. I urge you all to check out your local food banks, volunteer and donate.

These facilities are literal life lines to many families and individuals in need, especially those affected by the recent wildfires.

If I missed any food bank or resource in the Bay Area, please include them in the comments below.

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by the events, organizations or restaurants listed unless otherwise noted. If you’d like me to rant about a happening around town, an awesome organization or a yummy eatery for my SF Sundays rant series, please email ha@mshala.co.